With Burn's Night on 25 January, now is the perfect time to try haggis. According to 'Traditional Foods of Britain' haggis is not exclusively Scottish. It was eaten throughout Britain in medieval times.
Many people are put off by the fact a haggis is made from animal pluck - lung, liver and heart - but some are made from sweet Scottish lamb. To this is added a mixture of oatmeal, lamb suet, onions, herbs and spices.
To reheat a haggis, wrap it in foil and gently simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes (do not boil). It is traditionally served with tatties and neeps.
The haggis has been the subject of much ridicule and endless bad jokes. Scotland abounds with picture postcards of humanised haggis, or three-legged haggis being hunted through the heather! Traditional haggis recipes call for the savoury meat mixture to be boiled in a sheep's paunch, but as this is difficult to obtain by modern cooks, this recipe is steamed in a basin.
225 Gram Liver (8 oz)
150 Gram Oatmeal (6 oz)
2 Medium Onions
225 Gram Minced lamb (8 oz)
150 Gram Shredded suet (6 oz)
Pinch Grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper
Put the liver in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes. Drain the liver, reserving 4 tablespoons of the water. Toast the oatmeal under the grill or in the oven until it is golden brown. Allow to cool slightly. Meanwhile, mince the liver with the onions. Add the oatmeal, minced lamb, suet, nutmeg, salt, pepper and the reserved cooking liquid to the minced mixture and combine thoroughly.
Spoon into a greased pudding basin and tie a lid of greased greaseproof paper and foil on top. Make a pleat in the lid to allow for expansion. Steam the haggis for 3 hours, replenishing the boiling water when necessary.
Serve hot with bagpipes and plenty of Scotch whisky.
This is a traditional accompaniment to Haggis. The turnip in Scotland is commonly 'brassica rapa', rutabaga or Swedish turnip. In England it is called a swede. It was introduced to Scotland in the late eighteenth century by Patrick Miller of Dalswinton. He was a wealthy man, a director of the Bank of Scotland and Chairman of the Carron Iron Company, and had a passionate interest in mechanical and agricultural improvement. King Gustav III of Sweden was a satisfied customer of Carron, and he presented Miller with a gold, diamond-encrusted snuff-box bearing a miniature of himself, containing rutabaga seeds. In this way the 'swede' came to Scotland. The box and its accompanying letter can still be seen in the British Museum in London.
Swede, peeled and diced (1 lb)
50 Gram Butter (2 oz)
Pinch Mace (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the swede in boiling water for 25-30 minutes, or until tender. Drain and mash well.
Add remaining ingredients and mix well until the butter is melted and incorporated. Season according to taste.
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